Throwback Movie Review: Withnail and I

“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.”


Finding a movie that I absolutely fall in love with happens pretty rarely. Around once a year however, I find a movie that is perfect. I’ll watch it over and over again, making other movies seem dull in comparison.  The movie I haven’t been able to get enough of these past few months is “Withnail and I”.  It is a British black comedy that came out in 1987 and directed by Bruce Robinson.  Upon its release, it wasn’t extremely successful or popular, but overtime it has become one of Britain’s biggest cult classics.

One of my favorite parts of this movie is that it has a simple and straightforward storyline.  It follows two out of work actors in 1969, Withnail a highly dramatic alcoholic, and “I”, the more sensible one and the voice of reason compared to Withnail.  You don’t learn the character “I”’s name throughout the entire movie, another small detail that makes this movie so delightful.  Throughout the movie we see these two characters take a vacation from their disgusting London flat, to the gloomy but beautiful English countryside, where they stay at a cottage owned by Withnail’s uncle.  As the film unfolds, their vacation proves to be anything but enjoyabl: monotonous days, strange local characters, and lots and lots of dreary rain.  The characters have no real goal or destination other than to have an enjoyable vacation, which they miserably fail at.

The acting in this movie is absolutely amazing, especially from Richard E. Grant who plays Withnail.  It’s been said by many that Grant’s drunk acting is some of the best ever put to screen.  It is the perfect mix of hilarious and pitiful, but it is so extremely true and not at all over the top.  The “I” character, although less extreme, is just as spectacularly played by the actor Paul McGann.  His constant exasperation with Withnail creates loads of hilarity, as well as relatability; everyone can pick out the Withnail in their own life.

People often think this movie was actually made in the 60’s, due to how accurate to the time it is.  Something that adds to this is the soundtrack.  The music perfectly defines the time.  The songs are celebrating the 60’s and mourning the end of it.  We hear, of course, the kings of 60’s music, the Beatles, “While my Guitar Gently Weeps”.  This songs fits perfectly with how absolutely depressing the men’s flat is.  We also hear Jimi Hendrix singing sweet anthems of this era, and electrifying the exciting scenes.

This movie has absolutely became one of my favorites.  It is a flawless combination of laughter and sadness.  The backdrop of dreary England mixed with these two slightly psychotic characters creates a beautifully unique story that I could not recommend enough.


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Maggie Abell

Maggie is a sophomore at Stamps School of Art and Design. She hopes to do a lot of things with her life ... at some point. She loves singing, movies, and most of all, her dog, Winifred.

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